Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Outing Myself... a cat owner.

Almost gotcha with that headline, didn't I?

No, it's time to end this ridiculous stereotype about single women of 40 who have cats. Every time I read something about aging, there's a woman in there somewhere moaning that soon she'll be living alone with cats, and then her life will be over.

Well, I'm here to buck that bullshit. I live alone. I have two cats. I've owned three and had up to five living with me at one time. I've rescued wild kittens and taken cats from shelters to find them homes. I've trapped feral cats and had them neutered before releasing them. I give money to Alley Cat Allies and the Feral Cat Alliance, along with the Humane Society and SPCA-LA. I've never been married, and I have no children.

But you know what? I have a life. I'm not some lonely spinster with nowhere to put her love. That idea is just, well, ridiculous. People need to find a new metaphor for loneliness, because the "Cat Lady" stuff won't fly anymore.

Single women with cats DO:

1. Have sex. In fact, I've had more sex since I became a cat owner. I get a lot of attention from men (not that this validates me as a human being -- but it just blasts the "Cat Lady" stereotype all to hell, and, hey, it's good for my ego). I love men. Yeah, I'm still looking for one great one to spend my life with, but in the meantime, let's just say that life has been good to me. No, I won't go into details. A survey of my single friends indicates no correlation between cat-ownership and lack of sex. Get over it, people.

2. Clean their house. Yeah, I've probably got more hair in my carpet than non-cat owners. But the constant battle against fur and litter prompts me to sweep my bathroom (where the cat box lives) every single day. How many non-cat owners can make that claim? My house does not smell like cats. I've queried my most honest and critical friends to make sure I'm not deluding myself on this point. The worst smells usually come from outside, when my nutty neighbors pee in the hallway or leave their garbage outside to rot. People shed more hair and skin and leak far worse odors than cats do.

3. Love dogs. If I had the space for a dog, I'd get one. Apartment living in a town where few can afford to buy is the culprit here, not cats.

4. Have good taste in home decorations and clothes. Every cutesy cat object I own was given to me. I do not buy them. It just doesn't occur to me. In honor of my dear departed Aunt Janet, I do have one of her cat magnets on my fridge. Cat-wise -- that's it. I don't wear t-shirts featuring fluffy kittens or cats hanging from tree limbs with the saying "Hang in there." Do I go "awww" when I see the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet? Sure. But I've seen grown (married!) men babble like children when they see a cute animal. That's human nature, whether you are single, young, old, married, lonely, or busy.

5. Have a life. This hooey about the lonely cat-loving spinster who never leaves the house would be hilarious if it wasn't so ubiquitous. I've lived in many different cities, traveled to Europe more times than I can bother to count, and floated down the Nile, taking in the sun. I work in what some consider a glamorous industry (TV - believe me, it ain't) and have attended parties and premieres surrounded by famous bozos. I've had drinks at world famous "see and be seen" spots. Hell, I've partied at the Playboy Mansion. Sure, I don't feel like I fit in at these places. I find Hollywood's shallowness and greed dispiriting. But it's yet another strike against the Cat Lady cliche. Take that!

This coming weekend I have plans for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, each with a different person or group. Not to mention yoga, brunch, and writing plans for the weekend days. This is typical for me. Sometimes my social schedule is so busy that it exhausts me, and I shut down and cancel everything to recharge. I'm not complaining -- I'm pointing out the utter lack of correlation between cat ownership and loneliness. There are many nights when I say "no" to invitations so that I can have some quiet.

But I love my life. I've created one that's full of activity, fun, support, and love. I love my cats too.


Valerie said...

I was all ready to say, "Amen, Sista!", but then I thought about it and realized that I might conform to these vicious Cat Lady cliches a little more than you do. Hmmm. Well in any case, there's a grateful little calico in my house who'd be living on the streets (or not at all) had it not been for your cat-loving ways.

Wendee said...

I can hear it: "Hello, my name is Nina, and I'm a well-heeled, non-lonely, partying, dog-loving, sex-loving, militant cat-owner vixen! Yargh!"

Neen ... I think you scared all the lurkers away. [smirk]